Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

California may ban state-funded travel to states with anti-LGBT laws

Assemblyman Evan Low

Assemblyman Evan Low

A gay California lawmaker wants to ban state-funded travel to states with anti-LGBT laws.

Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) has introduced  AB 1887, which would end state-funded travel to any state with a law in effect that sanctions or requires discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.

The announcement by Low’s office this morning (Wednesday, February 17) comes as a number of Republican-controlled state legislatures in the Midwest and the South have moved to adopt a range of anti-LGBT legislation.

While measures in Indiana, Washington, and Virginia have been defeated in recent weeks, several pieces of legislation that discriminate against transgender students have been advancing in South Dakota. And a bill in Tennessee giving counselors the right to not see patients based on their religious beliefs is now before that state’s Senate.

The American Civil Liberties Union and LGBT rights groups are also tracking anti-LGBT bills in the state legislatures in Georgia, Florida, West Virginia and elsewhere.

Low’s bill mirrors the actions a number of cities and counties, including San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Clara County, took last year after Indiana lawmakers adopted a so-called “religious freedom” bill allowing Indiana residents and business owners to claim religious beliefs to legally discriminate against gays and lesbians. Due to widespread opposition, especially from business leaders, Hoosier legislators revised the law; an effort this year to pass legislation banning LGBT-based discrimination in the state failed.

“The Golden State has always been a leader in protecting civil rights and preventing discrimination,,” stated Low. “Our zero-tolerance policy says there is no room for discrimination of any kind in California, and will certainly not be tolerated beyond our borders.”

A second bill Low has proposed, AB 1888, would require all institutions receiving CalGrant dollars to certify to the California Student Aid Commission that they do not discriminate on the basis of, among other things, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. The law would also prohibit the institutions from seeking a Title IX waiver from the U.S. Department of Education as a condition of receiving state funds.

Low’s office pointed to a recent report by the Human Rights Campaign that found the rate of schools seeking waivers increased dramatically from one school in the nation in 2013, to more than 43 schools in 2015, six of which are in California.

Equality California, the statewide LGBT advocacy group, is backing both of Low’s bills.

“These bills send a clear message that the state of California does not tolerate discrimination in any form,” stated EQCA Executive Director Rick Zbur. “Now that the LGBT community has won marriage equality and made so many positive strides in other areas, we are seeing a disturbing trend of our opponents using exemptions based on religious freedom to justify discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations and other areas. These bills end state subsidies of educational institutions that refuse to treat all students and employees equally, as well as state-funded travel to jurisdictions that discriminate.”

Both bills will be referred to a policy committee in the coming weeks and will be heard in committee this spring.

— Matthew S. Bajko, February 17, 2016 @ 12:54 pm PST
Filed under: Uncategorized

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